A hit-and-run investigation that led to a stolen CHP patrol car, multiple shots fires and a high-speed pursuit all started with a stolen car, the owner told NBC 7 in an exclusive interview.
John Machado, owner of Point Loma Plumbing, has had a terrible month.
His misfortunes began when someone broke into his van and stole three cases of plumbing tools and parts – equipment that would cost more than $10,000 to replace, he said.
Along with the tools, the thieves stole the keys to his Toyota, which Machado bought so he could travel to see his daughter and grandsons in Los Angeles.
Knowing full well the culprits could come back for his car, he got a quote to see how much it would cost to get the locks replaced. The first service center said it would cost $1,000, but Machado put it off in hopes he could find a lower price.
He waited too long.
“About three to four days later, that’s when they came and stole the car,” he said.
He believes an organized ring of professionals orchestrated the van break-in and subsequent car theft.
For weeks, he heard no updates on the whereabouts of his vehicle. But on Thursday, he got a call from California Highway Patrol. The officer said his car had been involved in a hit-and-run investigation that turned into something much bigger.
Officials told him they had found his car in Mission Bay with the whole front damaged, driven by a woman.
A CHP officer put the female suspect in handcuffs and loaded her into the back of the cruiser as he searched the vehicle for ties to a reported hit-and-run. That’s when the woman somehow slipped the handcuffs to the front of her body, hopped over the seat and drove off in the CHP patrol SUV.
CHP officials say she reached for the rifle stored there, so the officer opened fire as she drove out of the parking lot. San Diego Police picked up the chase as the woman sped over the freeways and got off in Mission Valley, ramming into at least three vehicles along the way.
Officers fired their weapons at the SUV , and the woman was finally arrested about 30 minutes later at Qualcomm Way and Friars Road.
Machado got all this information from various investigating agencies as he tried to find out the fate of his car, which started it all.
“Now, they say, the police are going to take the car for whatever reasons, for maybe two months,” he told NBC 7. “Two months, I can’t touch the car, so there I am for two months. I’m not going to see my grandsons. So crazy.”
That setback is the latest in a long, fatiguing line of problems. Because he only has partial insurance on his Toyota, he is not even sure if the damage done to it can be fixed.
“The feeling is like I have a headache. I’m tired, exhausted because it was one thing after the other. They took all the tools, now they took my car,” Machado said.
The female suspect, whose identity has not been released, was booked into a Santee jail on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and auto theft, among others.